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Board urges legislation to address sexual violence

New committee created to focus on prevention and education

The NCAA’s top governing board Wednesday directed the leadership of Divisions I, II and III to consider developing legislation to address college athletes involved in reported incidents of sexual violence.

The Board of Governors, during its quarterly meeting in Indianapolis, also created an ad hoc committee that will continue confronting and addressing issues of sexual violence on college campuses. The committee will comprise college presidents and chancellors, experts in the fields of student services and assault prevention, and other leaders. Among its tasks, the committee will focus on strategies for prevention and continued education about sexual violence at colleges and universities.

The decisions are the board’s latest steps in defining how a college athletics department should properly respond to sexual violence accusations involving a student-athlete. In recent years, the Association has convened experts across an array of disciplines to discuss the role college athletics should play in combatting sexual violence on campuses. In 2014, the NCAA Executive Committee – the previous name of the Board of Governors – adopted a resolution laying out its expectations for athletics departments.

In asking the divisions to consider drafting legislation, the Board of Governors turned to that resolution, directing them to consider how its main points could be turned into rules for member schools. That resolution states that the top NCAA board expects members to:

  • Comply with campus authorities and follow campus protocol for reporting incidents of sexual violence.
  • Educate student-athletes, coaches and staff about sexual violence prevention, intervention and response.
  • Assure compliance with all federal and applicable state regulations related to sexual violence prevention and response.
  • Cooperate with but not manage, direct, control or interfere with college or university investigations into allegations of sexual violence, ensuring investigations involving student-athletes and athletics department staff are managed in the same manner as all other students and staff on campus.

Each NCAA division is led by a governing body made up of college and university presidents and chancellors – the Division I Board of Directors, the Division II Presidents Council and the Division III Presidents Council. Those groups will review the Board of Governors’ request.

The board’s directions are the latest in its ongoing conversations on sexual assault prevention and education. Weeks after the resolution passed in 2014, the NCAA released the handbook “Addressing Sexual Assault and Interpersonal Violence: Athletics’ Role in Support of Healthy and Safe Campuses” and joined the White House-initiated partnership It’s On Us, designed to encourage bystander intervention. The NCAA convened a Sexual Assault Task Force in 2015 and sponsored the Higher Education Summit on Sexual Assault in February.

This fall, the NCAA is expected to release a resource for college athletics administrators called “Sexual Violence Prevention: Athletics’ Toolkit for a Healthy and Safe Culture.”

Sexual assault survivor Brenda Tracy and her son Darius Adams scheduled a visit to the NCAA national office the day of the board meeting to deliver a petition asking the association to ban sexual violence perpetrators from competing in college sports.

“We appreciate the opportunity to speak again with Brenda and with her son Darius,” the NCAA said in a statement. “She has a compelling story and, like us, is seeking changes on campuses and nationally to stem the tide of sexual assault. We look forward to continuing our conversation with her and other leaders regarding this important matter.”